Monday, August 29, 2011


It’s back to school time.  I find it comical that we wait all the school year for summer to arrive and then you wait all summer long for school to start.  Why?  I think it all comes down to schedules.  During the school year, it seems every moment is by the clock.  Get up at 6:00 a.m., first child to the bus at 6:40 a.m.  Hope in the shower.  Get up second child, and off to school by 8:30 a.m.  To work by 9:00.  Home by 5:30.  Activities of the day by _______ and on and on it goes until the last child is in bed by 10:00.  But summer comes, and there are no set schedules for the children and that makes life as an adult hard.

I love summer.  It’s the bright yellow sunshine, warm on my skin and face.  It’s dark green leaves blowing silver in the wind.  It’s the squirrels and the rabbits.  It’s the garden and the flowers and the butterflies dancing in the air.  I spend so much time outside and running around that my writing tends to be pushed aside, way aside.  But for a bit of editing and administrative crap I have not done a bit of writing in months.  I have note cards full of ideas that have popped in my head during these summer months that have yet to be worked into stories.  I have projects sitting half done, neglected and sad.  This happens every year.  Why?  Again, schedules I blame.  I am a night writer in general.  When the children are asleep and the house is quiet, I sit down and write for as long as I want.  In the summer, it seems my house is never quiet.  My teenager never goes to bed. 

Oh I can hear you saying, make her go to bed.  Ummm, do you have a 16 year old?  You can say its bed time, and you get an “Okay” but then it’s teeth brushing and face washing and “Can I watch a movie in bed?” and “Turn the radio down” and yeesh, by the time I get her settled it’s 11 and I am no longer in the mood to write, I’m just wiped out. 

Now that school is back in session, I am inside more, and there are less chores to do outside, and my house is finally quiet at a reasonable hour and guess what?  I am finally finding time to sit down and write.  Boy have I missed it.  I didn’t realize.  So, I say yay to school, even though I will desperately miss the summer. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens - Review

First I want to say a hearty thank you to all the participants of last weeks contest.  We did in fact have a 3 way tie in the end.  Go figure, eh?  I had to use the number generator after all.  So without further fanfare, the winners of the contest are:

 - 1st place winner of a copy of the book The Pea in Peanut Butter:  Inluvwithwords (aka Ruth)

 - 2nd place winner of the goody bag:  Miranda Paul.

Congrats ladies.  If you haven’t already, please forward to me your mailing information so that Allyn can ship out your prizes.  Thanks so much for playing. 

This past week I was so excited as the movie Conan was coming “back” to theaters as a re-make.  Yes, I know it’s a surprise, but I am a huge fan of Conan.  Arnold, I’m still love you.  You gotta admit, the guy was buff in those films.  No he didn’t say much, but YEOW!  The fact that it was being remade was high on my list of MUST see movies.  However, when I went to get tickets, for some reason I hadn’t realized it was rated R.  As I had my two children with me, one as young as 9 years old, I had a slight issue.  I asked the ticket guy if the R was for violence or for sex.  Poor fellow about died of embarrassment at my question.  Even his ears turned red.  Ha!  Anyhow, it was for violence, sexual content, and nudity.  All three bad things.  So no Conan for Courtney.  Bummer. 

Instead we chose the movie Cowboys and Aliens.  Yuck.  I so did not want to see this movie.  The trailer was way way WAY over run and not the greatest if you ask me.  So it was not high on my priority list of movies.  But we were there, and ready for a movie (had our candy stash is what that means), so Cowboys and Aliens it was. 

The movie was actually very good.  It had plenty of intrigue and surprises, along with a great cast in Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig for starters.  I was also very happy to see that they used real American Indians to play the parts of…..the American Indians.  Maybe not all of them, but a lot that I could see anyway.  So, snaps to the production people on that.  Yay. Also, they used real horse people.  What I mean by this is, people that could ride a horse without bouncing around like an idiot.  It takes more than a lesson or two to ride a horse well.  Nothing annoys me more in a cowboy movie than a person on a horse that obviously has never been on one before.   

The premise was as the title indicates, Aliens and Cowboys duking it out, over of all things, GOLD.  The Aliens also snatch up people, and do research on them…ick.  The humans go on a quest to try to find their abducted kin and save them.  Then you have Jake, a loner, with no memory but obvious skills with weapons and self defense.  Toss in a strange weapon attached to his wrist, and a wanted poster with his face on it and intrigue you have.  Sounds convoluted even now, and not like a great movie, but again, surprise, it was.  Even my girls liked it.  That says something as they are even more picky that me. 

So although I was quiet disappointed that I couldn’t see Conan, I was very happy with our choice in the end to see Cowboys and Aliens.  Go figure.

Did anyone else catch this flick?  What did you think? 

If you got to see Conan, I don’t want to know about it!  No Fair!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Interview with Allyn Stotz

This week we are mixing it up a little here on my blog.  I am happy to introduce to you Allyn Stotz, the author of the children's book, The Pea in the Peanut Butter. 

Not only are you going to have the opportunity to learn a little bit about Allyn, but you will also have a chance to win a copy of her book or be a lucky winner of a goodybag. 

So without further ado lets get to it. 

1.            Can you tell us a little about yourself?  
I was born in Michigan, raised in Ohio, but have lived in the south for 30 years now. I work full-time at an engineering and consultant firm where I support our GIS Department. I have tried many hobbies but writing children’s books has now become my full-time hobby. Hopefully when I retire, it will become my full-time job. I don’t have any children so I use my love for writing children’s stories as a way to reconnect with children. A lot of my inspiration for my stories comes from past memories as a child as well as stories that co-workers and friends tell me about their own children. Also, my love for dogs has given me lots of ideas since I’m always watching and playing with them. My dogs know my deepest darkest secrets so in return they promise to give me lots of inspiration!

2.    Please describe yourself in a tweet:

Boring, wasteful, strong addiction to shopping for jewelry, clothes, house things, sassy, sarcastic, generous, loyal, loving, good listener, loud, observant of others but not places, organized, friendly but a loner somewhat, house decorator, animal lover, very timely, terrible at trivia, movie lover, honest, funny, stubborn, some musical ability, body timid, willingness to learn, creative, imaginative, team player, open.

3.         What are you currently working on?

I am currently and always working on my next picture book. My brain is constantly brewing up new ideas. I have about 3 or 4 manuscripts out there just waiting on responses. I’m also working on learning how to write Early Readers or Chapter Books

4.         What inspired you to start writing?

I needed a new focus on life. Something to do that I was passionate about. I can’t explain why but one day while I was reading my brother’s blog, he was just playing around and was writing a fantasy type story on his blog. He isn’t a professional writer. Anyway, I thought he had talent and thought to myself how fun it would be to write a children’s story. So I sat at my computer, started writing a story and haven’t stopped since. However, I am still working on that original story but have written probably 100 others since then!

5.         Do you remember the very first story you ever wrote? What was it about?

The very first story I remember writing was when I was probably in the third grade. It was about a land made out of nothing but peanut butter! Remembering that story is actually how I started out writing my very first published children’s book The Pea In Peanut Butter. Guess I like peanut butter, huh!!??

6.         What resource has been most influential in helping you become a published writer and why? How often do you refer back to it?

Probably the most useful and influential tool for me has been a chat type room that is available through the Institute of Children’s Literature. The information and resources available through that has been worth it’s weight in gold. I took a beginning class through the Institute and am now taking their advanced class and the knowledge I’ve gained from the class has been instrumental in helping me become published as well. Plus all the writing friends I’ve made have also been extremely helpful. I usually refer back to all or one of those things on a daily basis. There is a world of knowledge out there to help anyone who wants to become a published writer! You just have to be willing to do the work that it takes to find the information.

7.         What is the thing you enjoy the most about writing. 

Writing the actual story. I have to admit that sometimes I drive myself crazy trying to come up with ideas for a story, however once I do and put my fingers to work writing it, I just fly on cloud nine! I also love the editing phase of it. It’s amazing to me how just changing or deleting one word can make such an impact on the story.

8.         What are you doing when you are not writing?

I’m usually brainstorming on an idea for my next story! Or I’m online researching or chatting with other writing pals. If I’m not doing anything writing wise, I’m living my real world at home or at my full-time job but wishing I were… shopping!

9.         Who is your favorite author?

Well myself, of course!

Actually, I don’t have a favorite author. I like all types of books and authors.

10.       What's next for you?

I’m in cahoots with an illustrator who was raised in the same, small farming community in Ohio as I was. He is an award winning illustrator and writer who has had a picture book published. We are hoping to come up with another PB that a publisher will like and then we can have a book written and illustrated by two people who represent our little town. Normally publishers don’t like us authors to send in manuscripts with an illustrator already in mind, but we are going to try our luck at it anyway!

A few fun questions that have nothing to do with writing:

1.         Chocolate or Candy?

I love chocolate and I love candy so…both!

2.         Summer or Winter?

No question about it, winter. Summers in the Louisiana heat are horrible to me. I’m a bit… weird in more ways than one, but where most people love the sunshine and heat on their skin, I don’t necessarily like it. Oh it’s ok once in awhile, maybe after a dip in the pool, but when it sun shines day after day after day, I get really depressed. I love the rain, the clouds, the thunderstorms. Maybe I should have been a weatherman because I love the changes in weather from day to day.

3.         If you were trapped on a deserted island, what 3 things would you have to have with you to survive?

My laptop to write with
A dog to give me doggy kisses
Books, lots of books!

4.         What is your absolutely favorite movie of all time?

I have three. A Star Is Born with Barbra Streisand, Overboard with Goldie Hawn and St. Elmo’s Fire because it brings back old memories of good times with certain friends.

5.         What are your thoughts on ebooks vs. print books?

There is nothing like a real book in your hands. As far as picture books go, I don’t think an ebook can compare to a real book in the hands of a child. However, some of the things they are doing with ebooks and animation, would be really fun for a child. I definitely prefer a real book, however as an adult, ebooks would be fine too. And as an author, I dream of seeing a book of mine in hardback but in truth, I’ll be happy with any form of a book I write, as long as the child enjoys it!

6.            What would you say is your best quality?  Your worst?

I would say my best quality is my ability to laugh at most things and/or make others laugh. I’m also what I consider, a very generous person. I have to stop myself over and over from wanting to give too much to people.
My worst quality is probably that although I can laugh about most anything, I can also complain about it. I am never EVER 100% happy with anything. That drives me and probably those who know me well, nuts. I also have a tendency to expect too much from people. I expect others to treat me the way I treat them but that very seldom happens, at least from my view point. That probably goes back to my never being 100% satisfied with anything. I’m also VERY loud! I walk loud, I talk loud.

7.            If you had to pick a favorite song right now, which would it be?

Well I can’t just pick one of those either! I love Titanic sung by Celine Dion. I love anything sung by Barbra Streisand and I love Carrie Underwoods “Before He Cheats.” (I just love singing that song!)


Now for the rules on how to win.  No, you do not have to follow, but that would be nice if you decide you would like to.  However you do have to comment and you need to comment the answer to any of the questions listed below about Allyn.  Each correct answer will count as an entry.  The person with the most correct answers will win an autographed copy of Allyn's Book:  The Pea in the Peanut Butter.  The second place winner will receive the goody bag.  Should there be a tie for any reason, then I will have a random number seletor to choose the winners.  Also, I'm sorry to announce, but only residents of the continental U.S.A. can win.  Postage is a killer otherwise. 

So what do you think?  Sound like fun?  Okay then, here are the questions:

1.  Would Allyn prefer to live in Florida or Michigan?
2.  Do you think Allyn contributes to the candy fund at work or does she have the actual candy bowl on her desk?
3.  Do you think Allyn would prefer to meet Donald Trump, Rosanne, or Star Jones?
4.  Would Allyn be better at Interior Design, Psychology, or a Movie critic?
5.  If Allyn were given an opportunity to do one of the following, which would she turn down? 1) A chance to move anywhere in the United States   2) A photo shoot with Victoria Secret  3) A million dollars

Hop to it and get commenting.  This contest runs through Sunday, August 21, 2011.  You have until 11:59 p.m. EST to enter. 



Monday, August 8, 2011


One of the complaints with ebooks that I have heard time and time again is that you can’t autograph an ebook.  That was true for a while.  However, this week I looked into the Kindlegraph. 

What is a Kindlegraph you ask?  Until today I would have been asking the same question.  I was recently forwarded a link from my publisher regarding the Kindlegraph.  Today I sat down to figure out what the heck it really is and how to utilize it. 

In short, it is an electronic avenue for authors to use so that they can in fact personally autograph their ebooks.  Each autograph is personalized.  You can’t set up a standard autograph that goes on to each book.  You also don’t automatically get an autographed ebook.  You have to request it.  To break it down….

For authors: 

  1. Go to http://www.kindlegraph.com/. 
  2. Sign up for an account. If you have a twitter account you can sign up through twitter.  This made the process very quick and easy, which I like. 
  3. The creator of the Kindlegraph (Evan) will send you a request to autograph.  This will walk you through the process of creating your first autograph. 
  4. The process gives you a tiny box to type in your autograph.  It is a standard font in the box, but when it is placed, it is a handwriting font and looks pretty good if you ask me. 
  5. You will then be prompted to create a signature.  You have several choices in this regard.  I was able to find one that was a pretty good match.  As I am left-handed this came as a happy surprise to me. 
  6. You preview, you post, that’s it.  Done.

Quick, easy, and understandable. 

For readers:

1.                  Go to http://www.kindlegraph.com/
2.                  Search for you book. Click request Kindlegraph under the book cover.
3.                  Follow the prompts.  Basically you have to add Kindlegraph to your email list for your kindle, but it gives you good directions that are easy to follow.
4.                  An email/request is sent to the author.
5.                  After the author autographs it, it is delivered to the kindle.

That’s it.  Yes you don’t get the excitement of actually MEETING the coveted author, but you do at least get the personalized autograph.  All in all not a bad perk.  We will see how it turns out. 

Do any of you, readers or writers, use this application?  What do you think of it?  Have you found anything you don’t like?  If anyone has my ebook and would like to get it Kindlegraphed now’s your chance.  I would love to hear how your experience is with it.  Do you think it is viable and useful to the reader?

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Beginning of the End

For those of you that are waiting with baited breath, Shadow Warrior, book 2 in the Shadow Dancer series is scheduled to release in March 2012.  So what does that mean for me?  That means I need to get my patoot in gear and write book 3.  I have been procrastinating on this for several months now.  I have several ideas why this is:

1.  Once you begin the process of writing a new novel, it tends to take over every waking moment of your life.  As it is summer, my favorite season in the world, I don't want to spend it inside staring at my computer.  I want to enjoy the hot sun, and the cool pool, and the warm breeze, and the hard work of the garden and the yard and the long walks at the park.  Can you tell, I love summer? 

2.  I also know that dance season will be starting again at the end of August and then I will have plenty of time (at least 3 hours a week) to just sit and write while I wait.  So I keep saying to myself just wait a few more weeks.

3.  I don't want to finish the quest of Sunny.  If I keep putting it off, the story can never end.  It can stay in the realm of possibilities.  What may or could happen.  Who does she end up with.  What happens to the king?  Is he good?  Is he bad?  Does he die?  Does he live?  It's all a maybe right now.  If I write it all out and close the book, that's all over.  I'm not ready for a THE END. 

Oh there are many other reasons that I am procrastinating, but these seem to be the main ones.  So what this means is that I have until August 22 to hem and haw about it a little more, but then, I need to hop to it.  Get'er done so to speak. 

To leave you on a pleasant note, mark your calenders folks for the end of March 2012 to look for Shadow Warrior.  It's coming soon.  Yay.

Have a great week.